Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush may have seen one too many cringeworthy TikTok videos. On Thursday he took to social media to decry TikTokers of a certain age and gender, tweeting:
Bush’s missive drew strong reactions from NFL fans and players alike.
‘You’re Gonna Need to Build Your Own Locker Room’
Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt was quick to reply, tweeting: “You’re gonna need to build your own locker room over there bro…,” a lighthearted reference to the fact that Steelers wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool are among the league’s most prominent TikTokers.
Meanwhile, an NFL fan questioned Bush’s judgment considering that he “plays for the Pittsburgh tiktokers.”
Indeed, the Steelers have more than a few players on TikTok, mostly on the offensive side of the ball. That includes wide receivers Diontae Johnson and Ray-Ray McCloud, running backs Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels, as well as offensive tackle Zach Banner.
Bush’s message got the attention of Claypool, for one, who offered a simple, one-word response:
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A Shot at His Steelers Teammates?
Now Bush’s message may or may not be directed at some of his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates, and his tweet is likely to be forgotten by the time training camp rolls around later this month.
But TikTok videos were a significant source of controversy for the team in 2020, and could become an issue again this season, if Smith-Schuster and Claypool continue to produce pre- and post-game videos.
Last season at least three of Pittsburgh’s opponents—the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals—publicly stated that they felt disrespected by Smith-Schuster dancing on their team’s logo prior to games between the two teams.
Moreover, Bengals safety Vonn Bell vowed to make Smith-Schuster pay for his indiscretion, and backed up his words with a splattering, fumble-inducing hit. At least one team, the Bills, said they were extra-motivated to beat the Steelers because of Smith-Schuster’s antics.
Smith-Schuster’s TikTok videos ultimately become such a huge source of controversy that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had to have a talk with him, which prompted the fifth-year receiver to put away his dancing shoes, at least temporarily.
And while Tomlin and Steelers players like Joe Haden insisted that TikTok videos did not play a role in the team losing four of its final five games last season (including a historically awful playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns in January), many NFL observers would argue that providing any added motivation to your opposition can be a difference maker.
That includes former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher. In his recently-published memoir, Heart and Steel, he talks at length about how respect is “the strongest motivational tool” for NFL players.
In fact, he and his staff would go out of their way to compile “the juiciest opponent quotes from the week and [would] stick them in the players’ lockers…. I wanted to find ways to make sure each individual’s pride was at stake every game,” he notes.
It’s probably safe to say that if Cowher were coaching today, he would probably not be receptive to his players dancing on the opposition’s logo—or posting pre-game TikTok videos online.
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